“There is an educational slavery [but there] is freedom from the slavery of learning,” said Dr. Nish Sonwalkar at last Friday’s Creative Thinking Lecture in the Free Enterprise Center on the Miller Campus. Sonwalkar was invited to present information that the stigma of “right brain” learners versus “left brain” learners is no longer viable or true.
Sonwalkar has quite a personal history to back his credibility. When he graduated with his doctorate from MIT in the area of Molecular Dynamics of Nano-interfaces, Sonwalkar joined the faculty at MIT and created new learning processes based on his experiences with his classes.
“[I] found standing and speaking not conducive to creative learning,” said Sonwalkar.
Sonwalkar proceeded to create the Stellar Learning Program, which is used in over 800 courses at MIT, and was the key architect of the Singapore MIT Alliance, which is used at three different universities in Singapore delivered by MIT.
Educational background aside, Sonwalkar is also an entrepreneur with several different companies and is a cofounder of LearnQuest Academy of Indian Music. Sonwalkar is also well versed in Indian drums, which all the viewers found at the end of the seminar when he demonstrated teaching methods with his drums.
The beginning of the presentation was based on the sole fact that technology is literally taking over the world. Many different mediums of technology in relation to education were discussed, a few being Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia.
Sonwalkar went on to discuss how education nowadays is a “one size fits all” kind. He was very adamant in the fact that being creative with teaching can help students be creative as well.
“You can absolutely increase creative learning with technology today,” said Sonwalkar when discussing the variety of ways to encourage learning.
After a few brief videos explaining how the brain functions with creative thoughts using synaptic nerves, Sonwalkar explained how creativity uses many different parts of the brain, not just one side. He also reiterated the importance of repetition in learning with your brain.
“The more you do something, the more your synaptic nerves are strengthened. Memory is not all in one location,” he said.
This was demonstrated by the telling of a story about Sonwalkar’s Indian drum students. Sonwalkar noticed that when he was just having his students repeat and practice others musical pieces, they would forget after only a couple weeks in between semesters. He decided to start having them create their own pieces and perform them. After this introduction of freedom of creativity, he noticed his students were more excited to perform and they remembered their pieces easily.
Sonwalkar, well versed in the sciences, ended his lecture with an Indian drum performance to prove that he is not just one sided in his brain. He has been teaching Indian drums for about 20 to 30 years and was excited to teach the attendees of this lecture the variety of ways the drums can be played and how they can improve memory.
After covering so many different mediums of the world relating to education, Sonwalkar ended his presentation by answering all questions asked and with another musical composition at the audience’s request.
Thanks to the variety of learning aids, everyone in the audience was able to grasp the concepts that Sonwalkar was trying to convey. The concept is that education can prosper and have more adequate results when a creative learning environment is established.